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What’s That Called? ;-)

It’s time for fireside books in the Southern Hemisphere, and beach reads in the Northern Hemisphere. With all of those books, it can be hard to keep the titles straight. And that’s got me thinking about…

 

 

 

 

…a quiz!!  Oh, please!  It’s not as though you’ve never been warned to be careful around here!  😉

 

Titles are very important parts of books. They get our attention, and they tell a bit about the book. And, as a dedicated crime fiction fan, you know all of your famous crime fiction titles, don’t you? Or do you? Take this handy quiz and find out. Match each question to the correct answer, and see how many you get right.

 

Ready? Open the book to the title page to begin… if you dare! 😉

 

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Everybody Get Together*

One of the best things about the crime fiction blogging world is that we get to learn about excellent novels – books we might not have thought of, or known about, before. Of course, that’s not always good for the TBR, but it broadens our reading horizons. I know I’ve learned an awful lot from reading reviews on blogs I follow, and read much more widely because of them.

That’s one reason I’m glad to be a part of Petrona Remembered. For those of you who don’t know (or have forgotten), Petrona Remembered is a fantastic collection of reviews of fine crime fiction. It’s dedicated to the memory of Maxine Clarke, who was a true friend of the genre. I was fortunate enough to know Maxine (virtually, at any rate), and was always impressed with her knowledge of the genre and her support for high quality crime writing. I will also always be grateful that she chose to befriend me, and visit my blog. Her support of me and of my writing meant a lot to me.

But that’s not the only reason I love the idea of Petrona Remembered. It’s a fine place to look for that next great book you want to read. It’s also (and here’s where you come in) an excellent place to let everyone know about that great crime novel you just finished. You know the sort of thing I mean – the book or author that’s turned you into an evangelist. And the more you share those fabulous books with the rest of us, the better a resource Petrona Remembered becomes. To put it simply, it’s made all the richer for your contributions.

Bill Selnes at Mysteries and More From Saskatchewan had an excellent idea for keeping Petrona Remembered stocked with fine reviews. His thinking was that we in the crime fiction blogosphere could take turns adding reviews. Each month, a different blogger would send in a review, so that there’d be 12 new reviews each year. I think that’s a fantastic idea. If you do, too, all you need to do to be a part of it is to email me (margotkinberg(at)gmail(dot)com) and let me know which month you’d like to take. Then, I’ll post your review that month. It’s a perfect way to be a part of this rich resource even if you’re not quite ready to do it right now.

Don’t want to commit to a particular month? That’s fine, too.  All you need to do is email me (margotkinberg(at)gmail(dot)com) any review that you’d like posted on the blog. I’ll do the rest. You’ll learn about other great blogs and bloggers, and they’ll learn about you. Oh, and you’ll get to share your enthusiasm for that fantastic book you want everyone to read.

Questions? Just let me know and I’ll be happy to answer them. Rather not participate yourself? That’s perfectly fine. But I sure would appreciate your passing the word along to crime fiction book bloggers who might be interested. Let’s make Petrona Remembered a top online library of crime fiction reviews!

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Chet Powers’ Get Together.

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Wine Country

Not long ago, I had a terrific comment exchange with crime writer and fellow blogger Christine Poulson . At the time, she challenged me to write a story that begins and ends with exactly the same sentence. I accepted the challenge, and I’m delighted to say that Christine agreed to do her own story, also beginning and ending with the same sentence.

Below is the story that came from this conversation. And be sure you check out Christine’s story, which is right here. Try her crime fiction, too – you won’t be disappointed.
 

Wine Country
 

‘You’re going to love this place.’
Gabe looked around behind him at the group of people on the bus. Nine of them this time – a nice number. Easy to keep track of, but a big enough group that they’d start talking to each other once they’d visited a couple of the wineries on the schedule. He’d been doing these tours a few years now, and it had gotten to the point where he could almost predict exactly when the ice would break. It hadn’t yet, though.

He surveyed the group. A middle-aged couple – nice the way they were holding hands. What did they tell him? Thirty-third anniversary? That was something these days. Three other, younger, couples. One of them had said this was their year-delayed honeymoon. And there was one young woman in the back. Her name was Stephanie. Alone for the tour, with a smile that didn’t reach her eyes.  She said almost nothing. He walked back and asked her if she was all right. She said she was. There were a few other quiet murmurs, and some heads bent over the brochures he’d passed out when they first boarded the tour bus. No real enthusiasm yet, but that usually came later, after a few tastings. Now, he went back to the front of the bus and continued his spiel.

‘So, this vineyard’s one of our most popular stops. They’ve got some great, full-bodied reds, and some nice, light, crisp whites, too. And you’ll get to see a little of the actual property. Now, I’ll stop talking and let you get started. Your vineyard host’ll take it from here.’

The group shuffled off the bus, a few people blinking in the strong sunlight. One or two put on sunglasses. Gabe watched them go up the steps to be greeted by their host. He’d been a cop for a number of years before retiring and taking on this job, and he found those skills were still useful. He was good at observing, and could tell when someone needed a break from drinking, or a chance to sit for a few minutes. You didn’t often get trouble on these wine country tours, but he was good at spotting and preventing that, too. A lot of it was in the eyes: glazed with a little too much wine; or bright with excitement and interest. Now he looked again at his passengers as they headed into the winery. Everyone seemed to be comfortable, if a bit reserved. Everyone except Stephanie.

Gabe hurried over to Stephanie and gently pulled her aside. ‘You sure you’re OK?’
‘I am, thanks.’ She gave him a tired sort of smile.
He wasn’t about to pry. He nodded and she joined the group.

Gabe was curious, though. He went back to the bus and looked at his passenger list again to remember her last name. Greenvale. Where had he heard that name? It took a few minutes, but it came to him. Dan Greenvale. A suicide. It made the news because there was a Greenvale Winery here in Temecula at the time. Must be hard on the kid to come back here if she was a relative.

Stephanie followed the rest of the group into the winery, pretending to listen as their guide explained how the place got started. She didn’t need to pay attention; she knew damned well how Marquise Winery began. Now this place, and its owner, Ned Priestly, were raking in money. And that was why she was here.

The tour group followed dutifully as the guide led them out to the vineyard itself. Everyone stopped at the different designated points to look at the young grapes, taste some samples (the Chenin blanc really was nice and crisp), and hear about the process of harvesting and winemaking.

‘Now, here’s a nice treat,’ the guide said. ‘Our owner, Ned Priestly, is here today. Come say hello, Ned.’
A man in his sixties, dressed for the weather in a light sport shirt and khaki trousers, joined the group. ‘Nice to see you all here,’ he said. ‘I hope you’re enjoying the tour.’ Everyone murmured a greeting, and Ned soon took his leave and made his way along one of the trails.

When the tour had finished, the visitors were invited to visit the tasting room, use the restrooms, and, of course, browse the gift shop. Stephanie walked with the group as far as the restrooms. Then, as soon as she saw that no-one was watching her, she went back the way they’d come –to the vineyard itself.

There he was, still fussing with the vines. Stephanie walked up to him.
‘Can I help you?’ he asked. The expression on his face added the word, ‘Sweetie’ to his question.
‘I hope so. You’re Ned Priestly, aren’t you?’
‘Yes, I am.’ His smile widened.
‘Then you’re the person I need. I’d like to go into the business.’
Ned’s smile turned condescending. ‘Well, you know, it takes a long time to learn the winemaking business. You have to –’
‘I know. I grew up in a winemaking family. We owned a vineyard. I know a lot about wine and winemaking.’
Now, Ned was interested. With those looks, if she also knew about the company’s wines, she could sell a lot of them. ‘What do you know about Marquise wines?’

Stephanie moved closer. Her voice got softer, but the edge was unmistakable. ‘I know you and your company took over this winery from a man named Dan Greenvale. I know you used some dirty tactics to get the land and the grapes. I know Dan Greenvale never got over it. He killed himself. I know that.’
Ned was slowly backing away. ‘I – I never – I –’
She kept coming, slowly reaching into the tote she had with her. ‘And you know how I know all that?’
Ned shook his head, flicking drops of sweat as he did.
‘Dan Greenvale was my father!’

It was just a quick glint of silver, but it caught Gabe’s eye. He’d been on his way to gather the group for the trip to the next winery when he noticed Stephanie talking to the owner, and wondered what was going on. He moved close enough to hear, making sure he stayed out of their line of sight. Then he saw Ned Priestly fall, and Stephanie take something that looked like tissues out of her bag to wipe the handle of the knife she’d used. She dropped it and turned away. Gabe waited until she’d slipped back to the main building. Then he called the emergency number.

It was time to leave. The tour group slowly filed back on board the bus. Gabe watched their eyes as they did. No one had had too much to drink – yet. But everyone was starting to talk a little. Stephanie was the last to get on, and went to take her seat at the back. That’s when they heard the siren. People craned their necks, trying to get a glimpse of what was going on.
‘Do you know what’s happening?’ someone asked Gabe.
‘No idea,’ he said. He managed to catch Stephanie’s eye and nodded just enough for her to see. Then, he glanced down at his schedule. ‘OK, our next stop is the beautiful J & J Winery. You’re going to love this place.’

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The World is Changing*

A book revolution started twenty-three years ago today, as this is posted. Yes, I’m talking about the 1994 founding of Amazon. Whether you love Amazon, despise it, or are indifferent to it, it’s hard to deny the profound changes the company made to the world of buying, selling, and reading books.

Like all major changes, the ones brought by Amazon have had both positive and negative consequences. And, of course, whether you consider a consequence to be positive or negative depends partly on your particular situation and opinions. Either way, it’s a whole new publishing world because of Amazon.

For authors, Amazon allows all sorts of options that hadn’t easily been available before. I can only speak for myself, but here are a few examples. I can publish, under my own imprint, whenever I’m ready to do so. And I can reach audiences all over the world, in three different formats (paper, digital and audio). If I notice an error, I can quickly edit anything I’ve published, and the corrected version is available to readers almost right away (especially readers who prefer digital books). Amazon has a host of promotion options, too. I won’t bore you by listing each one; suffice it to say that they’re there.

I can reach readers very easily through Amazon, too, because so many people use that source. One of the questions I get about my writing is ‘are you on Amazon?’ And I’ve made sales because my answer is, ‘I sure am.’ Readers can reach me, too. They can leave reviews, check out my Amazon Author page, follow my blog, find out about the books I’ve written, and so on, all directly through Amazon. And I can keep track of sales and other information, too. Oh, and I don’t have to pay for any of this.

But wait. Before you begin thinking that Amazon is a perfect author platform, it’s not. For one thing, Amazon’s distribution comes with several restrictions. It is, if nothing else, a savvy company that doesn’t want to create or encourage a lot of competition. So, working through Amazon means I don’t get to have my work available on some other sites that might be excellent ways to reach readers. And there are markets that it’s harder for me to reach.

There’s also the matter of author support for things such as editing, translation, and so on. Amazon does provide (for a price) cover design, formatting, and some other services. But they don’t provide all of the support that authors need to ensure their books are as well-written as possible. And authors don’t have a contact person at Amazon, as they do at many publishers. So, it’s much more difficult to get assistance, and that’s especially an issue for authors who are new to the publishing world.  And authors can’t have events at an Amazon store (such as readings and signings) that they can at, say, a bookshop.

Amazon is a very crowded market, too. So, even though just about anyone can publish there, there’s no guarantee that readers will notice a particular author. This means that authors have to do quite a lot of promotion work themselves. It doesn’t all have to cost a lot, but it’s certainly not free.

Of course, Amazon has dramatically changed the reading landscape, too. Before the company came on the scene, people bought books at independent bookshops, or at large chains such as Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, Whitcoulls, Dymocks or Chapters/Indigo. And the paper format was the only option. Now, of course, it’s possible to buy books (and I’ve done it) from virtually all over the world. Amazon allows one to buy a book new or used, in any one of several different formats. The site allows readers to leave reviews, too, and share their experiences with other readers. In other words, Amazon has made the reading experience far more flexible and interactive than it was. And that’s not to mention the myriad authors readers now can ‘meet’ – authors whose work might not be available in a local (or even chain) bookshop.

Because Amazon is an online retailer, readers don’t even have to travel to get the books that they want. It’s sometimes dangerously easy to ‘click here’ and purchase. That means that readers have unparalleled access to books, even from authors who are not exactly household words. And that’s not even to mention how easy it is now to choose and send a book as a gift.

But wait. The Amazon reading experience isn’t by any means perfect. There are many authors, who are signed by small, independent publishers, who are not represented on Amazon. They’re the sort of books you might find at smaller bookshops, but not at Amazon.

And those smaller bookshops are having an increasingly difficult time of it with the advent of Amazon. I’m sure each us could tell stories of bookshops we’ve loved that have had to close. Even some of the very large chains have closed or gone completely online. That means the delightful experience of browsing through a bookshop, reading the work of a new author, and so on, has changed. And there may not be as many opportunities (such as attending a reading or signing) as there were to meet authors.  Some people argue that this means books are less readily available, since there aren’t as many local bookshops to haunt. There are other consequences, too, some of them negative, for book buyers.

As you can see (but you no doubt already knew this), the rise of Amazon has not resulted in a perfect world for authors or for readers. But it’s had a lot of positive outcomes, too. Love it or hate it, though, Amazon has undoubtedly changed the way we think about purchasing, reading, writing, and selling books. What are your thoughts on this book revolution? Where do you think it might go next?

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Bob Marley.

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Crime Fiction News Break


 

Links You’ll Want

Orenda Books Event At Waterstones

Orenda Books

Thrillerfest

Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

Investigation Discovery and ID Wine Club

Martin Edwards

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books

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